Identity Statement for Barry Desmond

  • Reference code: IE UCDA P56
  • Title: Papers of Barry Desmond (1935-)
  • Dates: 1894-1980
  • Level of description: Fonds
  • Extent: 8 boxes
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use

Biographical History 

Barry Desmond was born on 15 May 1935 in Cork, and was educated at Coláiste Chríost Rí, the School of Commerce and University College Cork. He became a trade union official with the ITGWU (known later as SIPTU) and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. His father Cornelius (Con) was Lord Mayor of Cork in 1965–66.

Desmond first entered Dáil Éireann at the 1969 general election, when he was elected as a Labour Party TD for Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown. He retained his seat there in 1973 and was then elected in 1977 at Dún Laoghaire, where he won a seat at every election until his retirement from the Dáil in 1989. From 1981 to 1982 he served as Minister of State at the Department of Finance, under Garret FitzGerald as Taoiseach. In 1982, after Michael O'Leary's resignation as Labour Party leader, Dick Spring was elected as the party's new leader and Desmond was chosen as his deputy.

Fine Gael and the Labour Party together gained a majority in the November 1982 general election, and when the 24th Dáil met in December it appointed FitzGerald as Taoiseach. In his second administration, Desmond was appointed Minister for Social Welfare and Minister for Health. In February 1986, FitzGerald intended to appoint him as Minister for Justice in a major cabinet reshuffle; Desmond refused, and Spring supported him in that position. The outcome was that he remained as Minister for Health while Gemma Hussey took on the Social Welfare portfolio. Desmond resigned from his remaining ministerial post on 20 January 1987, along with the other Labour ministers, bringing about the collapse of the government.

At the 1987 general election Fianna Fáil returned to power. Desmond did not contest the 1989 general election, and on 15 June 1989 he was elected as a Labour Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Dublin. He was a member of the European Court of Auditors from 1994 to 2000, being replaced by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

He was elected president of the Maritime Institute of Ireland on 18 November 2006. He remains a member of the Council of the Maritime Institute of Ireland. As president he oversaw the revision of its articles of association and the securing of €3.2 million funding for the restoration of Mariners' Church, Dún Laoghaire, which houses the National Maritime Museum of Ireland.


Archival History

This collection was deposited in UCD Archives by Barry Desmond, T.D., on behalf of the Irish Labour History Society in August 1980.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of mainly printed material relating to the Irish Trade Union Congress (ITUC), Congress of Irish Unions (CIU), Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (ITGWU) and the Irish Labour Party.

Trade Unionism in Ireland

Irish Trade Union Congress (ITUC) 1894-1959: Annual reports, conference proceedings, newsletters, souvenir programmes, photographs. Irish Labour Party and Trad Union Congress 1912-1930: annual reports, conference proceedings and addresses, policy statements, newspapers. Congress of Irish Unions (CIU) 1945-1959: annual reports, photographs. Provisional United Trade Union Organisation 1957-1959: annual reports, sub-committee reports, draft constitution. Irish Congress of Trade Unions 1959-1980: annual reports, structure, organisation and finance, Connolly Centenary Commemoration, education, photographs. Belfast Trades' Union Council,Employer/Trade Union Conference Cork 1923. Council of Irish Trade Unions

Trade Unions

Irish Transport and General Worker's Union (ITGWU) 1909-1980: annual reports, conference proceedings (1919-1950), James Larkin, allegations against Labour Party, addresses to members, Dock Enquiry memo, souvenir programmes, strike notice 1913, newspapers, photographs, postcards. Workers' Union of Ireland, Labour yearbooks, employer yearbooks, Trade Unions Rule Books. Trade Union Legislation 1938-1941. 

Political Parties

The Labour Party (Irish): constitution, draft policies, policy statements, James Larkin - Communist Infiltration Inquiry, social welfare proposals, National Coalition Government 1974, election material, Con Desmond, accounts, photographs, newspapers. The Labour Party (English), Communist Party (Northern Ireland), Irish Workers Party

Political Literature and Pamphlets

Trade Unionism, Labour and Industrial Relations, The Socialist International, Ecclesiastical Writings, The Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921-1922, Parliamentary Companion, The British Labour Party and Ireland, The Anglo-Irish Economic War 1932-1934, The Irish White Cross Society, James Larken, James Connolly, social services/social insurance, education, Irish and British government publications

The Proportional Representation Campaign

  • Access: Available by appointment to holders of a UCD Archives reader's ticket. Produced for consultation in original format. Original material will be retrieved at 11am and 2pm only.
  • Language: English
  • Finding Aid: Descriptive catalogue